Sunday, March 26, 2006


I am excited about the upcoming camping trips. Our past trips have been a little challenging. During a camping trip with the Sierra club, it rained, snowed and sleeted in the same night. When we went to Niagara Falls, the entire area was having a rare heat wave and it was sooo hot we could not stand it and ended up staying in a hotel. By camping in April and May, I'm hoping to alleviate some of these concerns.

I love the outdoors and feel very peaceful there. Ironically when I was growing up I lived in the middle of the Ozarks and did not appreciate the surroundings when I lived there. Now that we live in the middle of the city, I sometimes miss the privacy and peacefulness that walking outside brings.

Several of our friends are excited about camping too so I think we'll have some nice weekends ahead.

Dinners and Breakfasts

Last night, we tried another camp meal. Michele had Creamy Shrimp Alfredo and I had Golden Brown Rice. 1/2 cup water seemed a little low for Michele's food. She had some dry spots but mostly enjoyed her food. I tried the new microwaveable rice bags with long grain wild rice instead of brown rice for mine. As I feared, the water was almost not absorbed at all. Still, the flavor was good and the meal was very satisfying.

This morning, I decided to try Bulgur Breakfast. Just one problem. It is supposed to be prepared overnight without boiling the water. I tweaked the recipe a bit, replacing craisins with blueberries and adding a tsp of butter buds. It has been cooking for about 10 minutes and I can't wait to dig in.


As I feared, the water did not absorb as well as it would have overnight but the taste is great anyway. Texture seems to be a challenge with these boil and add water meals. I don't know how to get the heat penetration that would make them spectacular. Still, I don't think I would ever go hungry if I had them along and they are at least good when they are not great.

New Shoes

I have been without a decent pair of hiking shoes for a long time. If I am considering time on the trail, I need a pair.

After reading a review by Ryan Jordan on the Timberland Delerion Pros (membership required), I decided these were the shoes for me. They are ultralight and they dry quickly after full submersion.

Some investigation revealed they are not sold within 500 miles of home so I sucked it up and ordered a pair online. They arrived to have me realizing I got the pair without the integrated gaiters and they might be too small. This is fairly typical of my online shopping experiences. I rarely know enough to make a perfect choice. It is a good thing I don't go skree skiing. I probably don't need the gaiters anyway.

Reluctant to send them back and futz with shipping, etc, I determined to wear them for a couple days and see if they are really too small. Three or four days later, I think they are just right. I might have a different opinion after 100 miles on the trail but with my current range of 5-10 miles a day, for one or two days, I don't think I have a lot to worry about. They are certainly light.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

First Breakfast Test

Regularity was pretty good though a bit mushy. Michele really liked her Gritty Nuts but didn't finish it.

I had a blowout on the ziplock bags and my cooking had was covered in slimy white goo (instant milk + starch from the Grape-Nuts). I ordered Aloksaks from Backpacking Light. I don't ever want to see that happen again. The extra quality is worth the cost but I have to keep in mind packing out the bags to see if I can clean them. I ordered the long handled titanium spoons from BackpackingLight as well. I can see the value of eating without getting goo on my hands.

I am having a hard time deciding if 1 or 2 stoves is the way to go for Michele and I. Portioning boiling water seems like a pain but I feel a little silly taking two stoves and fuel, even at 14g for the stove. I am using a titanium esbit stove from BackpackingLight. I also ordered a titanium windscreen.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


We went to REI and the grocery store today and I made substantial progress in getting together things I need for the upcoming trips. I also put together our first camp breakfasts for us to try tomorrow morning. We will prepare them completely as if we were in camp, including the camp stove and utensils. I am going to try Regularity and Michele is having Gritty Nuts and Pineapple.

I bought a Tilley hat at REI. I think I am buying into the hype. I also bought a Photon III light (white) so I can show Dave what they look like.

Tomorrow, we are going riding with Dave and Chris on the other side of Pere Marquette park. We will be riding on the side that closes for hunting season and Dave says there is more chance to get lost. I wonder if I should let Michele know. She didn't enjoy being lost in Shawnee in November. We almost had to spend the night in the woods that time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Things to Do

In order to succeed, I need a plan. Here is a list of things I have to do to make this happen.
  • buy new hiking shoes.
  • develop gear list
  • buy scale
  • weigh gear
  • evaluate gear list
  • buy food
  • home test recipes
  • home test cooking gear
  • pick destinations
  • pick recipes
  • determine final pack weight

False Starts

One weekend down and not much to show for it. I have purchased what seems like massive quantities of nuts and dried fruits that will contribute to meals on our outings. I have read the regular chapters and skimmed the recipes in Travel Light, Eat Heavy ( Many of the recipes in this book will go with us as we wander the wilds. I also received some gear I had ordered from Backpacking Light ( I am going to try Esbit stoves for water heating. I now have an insanely light, titanium Esbit stove. I also have a new skullcap shell hat in huckleberry purple.

Finally, today, I pulled out books and started researching places to go. I have to get off my lazy rear and do more work if we are going to succeed with this crazy scheme of mine. Some of our friends are getting interested in our insanity and we may have company for some of those weekends.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Humble Beginnings

For five years, I have been a backpacking gearhead who never gets out of the house. Well, change is coming and it is coming soon. For two months, I am going to spend every Saturday sleeping outside. I don't know if I will be backpacking, camping, horse camping or what but I will not sleep under cover of roof for the months of April and May this year. Rain, shine or storm, I will be out there, exposed and experiencing.

I will try to keep a record of my preparations and experiences here so others may learn from my mistakes. My focus is on ultralight backpacking gear and making it work. Eventually, I want to do some long distance ultra light backpacking but I have a long way to go before I am ready.

Michele, my wife, likes the idea and there is a strong chance she will participate for most of it. Maybe I will get her to blog her experiences too.